Husband Ordered to Pay for Wife's Health Insurance After Divorce

This is a rare case so don't think this is the norm.

This case just decided by the Arkansas Court of Appeals leaves a lot of questions.  The case is Baldwin v. Baldwin, just decided today.

Usually, one spouse provides health insurance (through his/her employer) for the other spouse.  Oftentimes I'm asked by the client that is receiving this benefit if the other spouse can be made to continue health insurance coverage AFTER the divorce is final.  My usual answer is "No."  The reason?  I have found that the vast majority of insurance companies will cover an individual and that individual's spouse, children, and/or other dependents.  When the divorce is final then the spouse that was receiving the benefit no longer qualifies under those definitions.  So the coverage stops.

There are ways around this of course.  For instance, the spouse that had been providing coverage could be ordered to pay for another insurance policy for the spouse that is going to be dropped from coverage.  Many times this is looked at as a type of alimony.  Which is also the primary caveat - if you are not a good candidate for alimony then you are not going to be a good candidate to ask for this type of assistance on health care coverage.

In the Baldwin case above, it appears that the husband was ordered to keep the health insurance coverage on his ex-wife for a period of three years.  At which time it was presumed she could then obtain her own insurance policy (pursuant to her own testimony at the hearing).  She was prevented from immediately getting her own insurance policy because of some preexisting conditions.

So I'm left to assume that husband's insurance company was okay with his ex-wife staying on his policy for three years after their divorce was final.  Not sure about your experiences in this area but that is an unusual occurrence from my experience.

I'm also left to assume that if the husband's insurance company was NOT okay with this then husband would have had a representative from his insurance company come to the hearing and testify to that fact.

Note:  The Court of Appeals states that the parties undisputedly viewed the insurance coverage as a type of alimony, and that's how the Court analyzed the case.  And I understand that.  Just not sure how they were able to keep the ex-wife on husband's insurance.